Water is the word of the month — as California suffers through one of the worst droughts in its history, Silicon Valley-based tech companies are innovating to reduce their water consumption and brands from Coke to Levi’s raising consumer awareness of water usage and conservation leading up to UN World Water Day on March 22.
While switching to solar power can result in lower utility bills and reduced carbon footprint, a lesser-known benefit is that solar power also requires no water to generate (though cleaning solar panels could drive that usage back up again).
As the infographic illustrates, coal is the biggest water hog, consuming 100-1,100 gallons of water per MWh — equivalent to 2 Olympic-size swimming pools. Next in line is nuclear, at 600-800 gallons per MWh, followed by natural gas (20-300 gallons per MWh).
A number of businesses are proactively taking a holistic approach to managing their energy and water usage: Marks & Spencer recently became the first retailer to receive the triple award of certification for achievements in carbon, water and waste reduction from the Carbon Trust. And after research released last week asserted that businesses and governments must tackle energy and water use in tandem or risk major disruption, companies including Sainsbury’s, Boots UK, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestlé and Nokia committed to looking at their carbon-water management holistically.
Meanwhile, last week Duke Energy, American Electric Power and Hoosier Energy became the first buyers of interstate credits for water nutrients in the United States' new pilot program, which the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) launched for water-quality trades in the Ohio River Basin. Water-quality trading is a market-based approach that could enable the energy companies to offset the significant impacts of their operations using nutrient-reduction credits from farmers who implement conservation practices, EPRI says.